The microfoundations of intersectionality

Here is the introduction to the Wikipedia page on intersectionality:

Intersectionality is an analytic framework which attempts to identify how interlocking systems of power impact those who are most marginalized in society.[ Intersectionality considers that various forms of social stratification, such as class, race, sexual orientation, age, disability and gender, do not exist separately from each other but are interwoven together. While the theory began as an exploration of the oppression of women of color within society, today the analysis is potentially applied to all social categories (including social identities usually seen as dominant when considered independently).

So why might intersectionality matter?  I can think of a few reasons:

1. Perhaps the signal extraction problem becomes more difficult in a non-linear fashion, when you are trying to peer through discrimination and identify underused talent for those with “multiple non-conformities.”  You might have a good sense of what an undervalued black student will look like, but find it harder — indeed much harder — to identify an undervalued Surinamese Haitian trans female student in a wheelchair.

2. Multiple non-conformities are like tolls on a river.  When there are multiple tolls, it doesn’t help commerce much to remove any one of them.  Similarly, you might fix one dent in your car, but it may not be worthwhile to fix fifteen dents or indeed any one of them.  No, I am not saying that individuals with multiple non-conformities are, in a quality sense, like dents in a car.  Rather there is a common logic involving threshold effects.  If you will come across as highly unusual in any case, perhaps you will not spend money to buy a nice suit.  Or perhaps outside parties are more likely to help a person who has only one main “disability” or non-conformity to overcome, perceiving a much higher chance of success with the aid.  Non-linear effects can discourage effort in a wide variety of cases.

3. Marginalized or minority communities may themselves exhibit prejudice against other non-conformities (for instance, some parts of the Jamaican community seem to be especially biased against gay individuals).  That can make it harder for persons with multiple non-conformities to find allies.

4. Note that intersectionality may operate in a favor of a person rather than always operating against a person’s interests.  For instance, black women arguably face less labor marker discrimination than do black men.

Overall, I believe the intersectionality concept is underrated by many people in the mainstream and on the political Right.  It suffers from some of the problems that would be predicted by…the intersectionality concept.


Look at the assumptions in the definition:
"Intersectionality is an analytic framework which attempts to identify how interlocking systems of power impact those who are most marginalized in society."
I don't believe that there are interlocking systems of power as defined by the proponents of intersectionality. Nor do I believe that intersectionality is an analytic framework in any real sense of analytics. Even the definition is a lie - quite the postmodern achievement, when you think about it.

Yes, it is the case that someone with 'multiple non-conformities' will have a harder time than someone with just one of the non-conformities or none of them. But beyond that somewhat trivial observation, is there really any analytics that can be attached to this?

Exactly. Trivial in the same way that so much of Foucault and Derrida ar, trivial. Seems like a concept mostly designed to provide intellectual scaffolding for an insurrection. Sad to see Tyler going the route of so many in the Media today and implying anyone who doesn't like this 'concept' is on the Right.

I understand he's a prof and must face the ideas wafting around him, non matter how stinky, but I'm still disappointed.

Tyler has gone native - he's now a full-blown SJW. He's going to look funny in an Antifa uniform, such as it is.

Owned through and through. Same folks own HBO, it seems.

The white power brokers of academia believe, or at least hope, that by parroting (and watering down) leftist rhetoric they might avoid the purge. They are mistaken.

Like Robespierre, some will lose their heads in their own purge. As we blue collar deplorables like to say, what goes around comes around. But what do we know? We are all average or less, so it's over for us.

Yes, the Great Purge, as predicted by the Dark Lord Halispar upon the Fourth Night of the Long Winter. Only a level 37 or greater Orc Mage can defeat him and only after he collects over 4000 experience points and finds (or purchases, check the virtual items store!) the Diamond Sword of Zingor and uses it to sever his head.

"Yes, it is the case that a function with multiple variables will be more complex than a function with just one variable or none of them. But beyond that somewhat trivial observation, is there really any analytics that can be attached to this?"

No real analysis is necessary when the output of the function is literally oppression points

Helen Keller would laugh at these clowns.

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

If God had granted me a daughter I’d far rather one like Helen than these trembling, stuffed-puppy clutching pseudo-women.

Fun fact: Helen Keller was a committed socialist:

She was also an old school eugenicist (of the kill the deformed type) and Swedenborgian.

But she wasn't complacent.

That matches perfectly with socialism, I can't fathom why anyone would be surprised.

Intersectionality is just the humanities version of a crosstab (except without numbers).

+1 you sir just won the internet today. Thanks for the laugh!

"Intersectionality is an analytic framework which attempts to identify how interlocking systems of power impact those who are most marginalized in society."

Translation: 'Intersectionality advances unsupported claims about power between arbitrary categories and measures their impact using undefined metrics across unlimited parameters. Academics with STEM-envy then pretend this is science.'

Fixed it for you, Tyler.

Ah yes, the age old argument that everything can be quantified and measured, or if it can't, then it doesn't matter or mean anything.

Can you think of a falsifiable and reproducible experiment that proves with the precision that Newton's Laws predict the path of a projectile that someone who is black, gay and paralyzed from the waist down has as easy of a time getting hired at Goldman Sachs as anyone else?

Or is your argument that because no such experiment is possible that we should assume we live in a world without any bias towards appearances?

Beyond basic prejudice, do you think that everyone has the same lot in life, and that no one else has an easier time interacting with social institutions like banks, jobs, clubs, or retail stores? Have you ever been to a foreign country? Did it seem like you were at a disadvantage? Do you think there is a chance that some people within any given dominant culture can feel like an outsider in a country where they are a citizen?

Do you have the math equation for the above questions so we can just solve for X and fix the world as you see fit?

Obviously I don't demand that everything be formalised. But its important that something could be formalised if need be.

When a system overtly resists formalisation, it's a great sign that its a bunch of crock.

It needn't be formalized.

Here's what you lack: empathy for other subjective experiences. You hear someone say, "The cops always mess with me because I'm young and black," and then you point at some statistical analysis that "proves" them wrong, and then everyone who is young and black and has had similar subjective experiences reject your formal analysis because it does not align.

Formal methods like statistical analysis are fraught with issues in the social sciences. The experiments are difficult to reproduce because they necessarily use only a subset of people to study. The next time the experiment is run it is a different set of people. This is radically different than the formal methods of Newton or Maxwell.

This is why there are conflicting studies on everything from the effects of minimum wage to street harrasment of women.

It isn't STEM-envy that is the problem, it is people like yourself who force the methods of science into fields that should not expect to find much value from reductionist, reproducible and falsifiable methodologies.

Here's what you lack: ability to handle logic. Especially fallacies of composition. Amazingly, statisticians know that what is true of a set may not be true of all members. Is that your best strawman? Sad.

" statistical analysis are fraught with issues in the social sciences The experiments are difficult to reproduce because they necessarily use only a subset of people to study. The next time the experiment is run it is a different set of people. This is radically different than the formal methods of Newton or Maxwell."

This is a profoundly stupid comment to make and betrays not just an ignorance of modern science, but a profound antipathy to empiricism itself.

Pardon me if I decline to defer to the subjective bleatings of you and the rest of your witch-hunting friends. I refuse to take your say-so as data, no matter how much you roll about the floor shrieking about your lived experience and that Bridget Bishop put the evil eye on you. You are an irrational menace.

That's rich, I lack the ability to handle logic? I'm a professional software developer and I've been published in IEEE. An article I wrote on PageRank is part of the Duke CS curriculum. I'm well versed in the statistical methods of the social sciences and anyone with half a brain and an interest in the hard sciences know how problematic the methods are. That doesn't mean that philosophy and qualitative analysis are not useful lenses in the right context. I'm not against science and reason, I'm against the notion that science and reason are applicable and useful in all contexts. If you weren't so busy building up an actual strawman you'd see that I never used any sort of absolutist language in this discussion. You're the one trying to turn this into a world where there is only science or non-science and seem incapable of nuance.

As for the rest of your overwrought nonsense about witch-hunting friends and shrieking about irrational menaces, how about you go outside and spend a little less time on 8chan turning yourself into a self-induced reactionary troll?

If you want to hop on a video chat and talk one-on-one in real time I'll be happy to have a productive conversation on any number of subjects and carefully explain my positions. But I think you're actually more interested in being an ass on comment boards than having any sort of actual social interaction. Like most of the edgelords on this blog's comments you're more interested in hiding behind a mask and role playing than actual social interaction.

The comments section at MR is always hot garbage. I appreciate you trying to be reasonable though. I usually stay out of them but I wanted to see the dumpster fire that a post like this is sure to create. Wasn't disappointed.

I sometimes wonder if this is some sort of Straussian approach of Tyler's to get the trolls to broadcast his hidden beliefs... ;)

Also, since the troll-fueled dumpster fires can be a sort of dark entertainment shouldn't we set up a Patreon to reward them for their efforts? It seems like the fair thing to do.

Thank you for your credentialism. I have lowered the appropriate institutions in status.

If you want to persuade me, formalise it rather than make an appeal to authority followed by an appeal to emotion.

I'll put that on top of your fallacy of composition. No charge.

To be fair to you (and contradict my 'lack of empathy'), I'm not averse to extending a little empathic credit to most fields of knowledge, under an assumption of good will. But we can't make that assumption here, can we? Any empathic value in the intersectionality field has long since been destroyed by the Bad Faith Status Game it has clearly degenerated into. I wouldn't touch it even if it didn't contradict other, much better established, fields of social and biological science. Or was so obviously riddled with neo-Marxist overtones.

So thank you for the offer, but no. I don't do unfalsifiable beliefs.

It isn't an appeal to authority when you defend your own abilities. You should you learn how to have an actual discussion instead of turning to a very tired set of misapplied logical fallacies.

"Bad faith", check. "fallacy", check. "Strawman", check. It's like we're playing "Idiotic Internet Argument Bingo". All I need is "social signaling" and "survivorship bias" to complete my row!

The list at is like the Dungeon Master's Guide for whatever stupid game you and your ilk like to play on forums like this.

This rhetoric is so commonplace and cliched that I sometimes wonder if I'm arguing with the same anonymous troll.

Confirmation bias and false positives are all you will get from a 'framework' that considers being unfalsifiable an advantage.

Good for politics maybe, but not for uncovering reality.

You're operating under the false assumption that there is always an objective position to take in all cases. This is much more dangerous than accepting that there are situations where all we can work with is individual subjectivity. Your position is uncompromising and antisocial but at least you recognize the political repercussions of such a stance: Not enough people on this planet will ever agree with you for it to be of any consequence.

The problem is not lack of empathy - most humans have plenty of empathy. The problem is that the vector required to define one's level of intersectionality has an arbitrarily large number of dimensions.

The only way out is to ignore intersectionality and consider a person's character and accomplishments.

A person's "character" is necessarily a social construction and the value judgements of what is "good character" and "bad character" will differ between subgroups. It is highly prized to be ruthless and uncompromising as a stock broker. Not so much for an elementary school teacher. The same applies for their "accomplishments". Is a poor stock broker a good stock broker? Is a rich school teacher a good teacher?

There are of course some absolutes. Murdering innocent and unarmed people is universally a sign of "bad character". Being unemployable and homeless is almost universally a sign of lacking in "accomplishments". These kinds of unquestionable positions are trite and boring and pretty much only useful in incoherent and pointless internet arguments.

What is more interesting is exploring the infinite nuance and complexity that makes up human society. We cannot view people as isolated entities floating in a contextless void for this task, no matter how useful that method is for some kinds of natural science.

Applying the same methodology for all kinds of inquiry is idiotic at best and devastating for human society at worst. The old cliche of "if all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail" is apt here.

The deficit model of education, that is assuming that your students are lacking in knowledge and that you must fill the void as a teacher, has been shown to lower test scores and increase the number of minorities that are misclassified as being learning disabled. The reasoning that framed these quantifiable measurements was inspired by intersectional thought.

No one is ever arguing that we should do away with falsifiable methodologies. All that anyone is ever arguing is that there are ways of looking at the world that benefit from subjectivity and more philosophical approaches.

Your counter-argument to intersectional methods of inquiry is not only incoherent but willfully ignorant. These kinds of approaches to social understanding should be seen as complimentary to both data-driven analysis and the qualitative notions of character and accomplishments that you subjectively think are important.

Intersectionality is the principal manifestation of the substitution of non-negotiable, non-disputable, non-investigatable dogma for the prior mode of liberal inquiry that once imbued learning. It is, imo, heavily driven as an economic matter by the post-baby boomer subsidized expansion of slots in higher education which has brought in many marginal students and created thousands of marginal teachers at schools that otherwise would have folded, teaching courses and programs that require nothing more onerous than memorizing a dozen stock phrases and spitting them out every time they see a white man.

One of the central points Tyler highlights is that it *doesn't* always work that way. For instance, black women being relatively advantaged in the job market at the expense of black men (point 4). Black women are supposedly "disadvantaged" in multiple ways (being both women and black), but the multiple-disadvantages actually seem to work in their favor - possibly because hiring a black woman allows employers to check two boxes, or possibly because it avoids the appearance of discrimination against black men.

Hypothetical I gave below. Consider the company that has black males in the warehouse as foremen and black women as secretaries. The company has no blacks in mid or upper management but there are a good amount of white women in mid and a few in upper management.

A black woman wants to be a foremen, say she isn't qualified for upper or mid level management and doesn't really want that type of job anyway. If she claims gender discrimination the company will point to the women in higher positions. If she claims racial discrimination the company will point to the black male foremen.

It seems pretty clear the picture has always been more complicated than a company that just declares "no blacks" or "no women".

And the company is wrong, why?

Because they are excluding qualified black females from being foremen.

That is a carefully crafted example. Does it happen too often in the real world.

Perhaps, and this is just a thought experiment, if she is good she gets the foremyn job and the company wins in three categories - it gets a good foremyn and checks off the black and female categories.

The problem with intersectionality is that it gets rediculous very quickly. How do reconcile all the different categories - race, ethnicity, wealth, gender, physical attractiveness and inherent intelligence. All of these categories are part of an individual's throwness - they didn't earn these differences. A person earns their accomplishments and their character. MLK said he dreamed of a day when a person was judged not by the (unearned) color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I'm with MLK.

Does it happen in the real world? I'm sure. I think discrimination is very real but rarely blatant "we don't hire blacks".

The problem with intersectionality is that it gets rediculous very quickly. How do reconcile all the different categories - race, ethnicity, wealth, gender, physical attractiveness and inherent intelligence.

Perhaps but in this case we are moving outside of the area of legal discrimination which covers only a few categories. You can sue if you're denied a job because of your gender or your skin color or religion but there's no protection for 'physical attractiveness' or wealth or inherent intelligence (although I'd be curious to know how an employer can tell how much of your intelligence comes from inheritance versus environment).

I meant 'Why is the company wrong in pointing to black hires and female hires as evidence that they would indeed hire qualified black females as foremen'?

The "systems of power" thing is odd. For the systems of power, such as they are, being a minority is explicitly a good thing and being double or triple a minority is double or triple a good thing.

Now some individuals are racist, some sexist, some both, and if you believe there are more people racist against blacks than white and against women than men, I can see how being a black female would make it more likely you would run into prejudice and/or more severe prejudice than a white man. And vice versa. Is that what intersectionality is?

Or, I suppose Tyler is saying some people may be biased against blacks in general and against women in general, but yet be less biased against black women than black men. So is intersectionality some fudge factor saying that bias preferences are not transitory, or don't stack in an additive fashion?

The "systems of power" thing is odd. For the systems of power, such as they are, being a minority is explicitly a good thing and being double or triple a minority is double or triple a good thing.


This is just quoting virtue signaling theories. But that is within "woke" groups, and doesn't apply writ large.

Any University? Any affirmative action employer, especially in fields like law where law firms bend over backwards to go well below their normal grade requirements to hire minorities?

Is it better to be a white lawyer or black lawyer in the US? Assume I give you no other data you will be randomly swapped into the place of one of those.

Depends on if you're running for mayor of Baltimore or not.

The only lawyer running for mayor in the US is a black one for Baltimore?

What I'm getting at is your question is not meaningful.

If becoming mayor is what you think the pinnacle of a successful law career would be, then I grant you today you probably would have better odds as a black lawyer than a white one if your goal was to become mayor of Baltimore. (If we're talking about being a mayor maybe we can ditch the lawyer angle...there are non-lawyer mayors out there).

That's a very specific requirement you seem to have of the good life in the US. I daresay there's lots of mayor jobs in the US...if behind the 'veil of ignorance' I said you could pick your race but a random number generator would assign you a place to run for mayor you wouldn't be better off picking white rather than black?

Well for law school admissions are basically by the numbers, LSAT and GPA. This is because those figures are heavily weighed in law school rankings. A woman or minority has an incredible advantage in admissions. graduate salaries are largely bifurcated between big-law and not-big-law. Like one group making 190k and the other making 50k. Big law hires are basically limited to the T14 (with Yale as the odd exception presumably because its graduates have even better options, like federal clerkships or trust accounts to fund their lifestyle while working at NGOs).

Go look at how the acceptance numbers (based on data) change (165-175 LSAT, 3.8 GPA):



The numbers seem to indicate that URM with similar scores are 25-100% more likely to be accepted to top law schools and the 190k starting salary jobs that follow.

Law school is an especially timely example given that the current intersectional controversy is about a URM Harvard Law Grad and NYT editorial board member who can apparently say racist and sexist things because of oppression hierarchy.

Well, intersectionality was propounded first by a black woman, and she claimed she was a greater victim of oppression than black men, because patriarchy. So I think you have the victimhood ranking reversed. But you tried. So you can leave the reeducation camp on weekends.

I think Boonton makes the point. This intersectionality is about quantifying oppression based on your membership in one of a seemingly unlimited number of groups.

The fact that black women have a hard time of it doesn't mean that Michelle Obama is oppressed. Nor does it mean that the situation of black women resemble the pretty nice circumstances that Michelle Obama enjoys.

The day to day situation of an individual cannot be quantified on a scale.

The end game of intersectionality is the rights of the individual.

The end game of intersectionality is to obliterate your individualism and replace it with tribalism.

To answer the lawyer question: it is better to be a dumb black lawyer than a dumb white lawyer, or rather if you're a dumb white you probably didn't get into law school. Probably best to be an Ivy League lawyer. After that a Jewish lawyer or a Catholic lawyer, or at least go to a Catholic law school.


Your understanding of the concept is correct.

Intersectionality is handicapped by it's hyper-focus on race and gender. As it is interpreted today, a black woman has two strikes against her. But what if she is beautiful, intelligent, and tall? Compared to a short, ugly, and stupid white male she may have many more opportunities. Once you expand the set of conditions used to define one's position in the intersectional hierarchy the whole concepts becomes unwieldy.

We are all thrown into the world with circumstances, traits, and gifts not of our choosing. What matters is what we do with it

why? because since it's acceptable to bully the short and ugly white male it's also OK to bully everyone else ?

Reminds me of an old Onion headline: "White Male Privilege Squandered On Job At Best Buy"

I believe you've highlighted one of the major intellectual failings of the theory. Which is to say, the theory is only coherent if one considers a partial vector of privileges. The problem is, which privileges to focus on is going to depend on the ideological makeup of the analyst. This amounts to a marked shift away from academic inquiry into applied confirmation bias. The pretense of intellectual rigor can no longer be maintained as subsequent writings reflect the author's a priori convictions and little more. (A more damning problem in practice is that most authors have the same a prior convictions and hence there is little awareness or desire to challenge the conclusions.)

To maintain intellectual rigor, one must therefore consider the entire vector of privileges. As soon as one does that, the unit of analysis shrinks to the individual (or otherwise very small groups). Talk about "oppressor classes" becomes meaningless because a class is no longer a valid unit of analysis; talk about "power structures" becomes meaningless because there is no "oppressor class" scaffolding them. The appeals to demographics are exposed as simplistic and ideologically-driven.

Instead we are forced to reckon with demographics through a statistical lens. "Whiteness" is a privilege, ceteris paribus, but there is no ceteris paribus in reality. Accordingly, it is in error to conclude that any arbitrary white person is privileged. Or straight person. Or male. Subversive [power + prejudice] definitions of racism and sexism can and should be abandoned.

In other words, we end back up where we were before intersectionality theory took everything off the rails.

You're being too kind in assuming that these people are honestly mistaken. Like the 'Racism = power + prejudice' definition, the entire thing has been carefully crafted to support pre-existing ideological conclusions.

This is not honest enquiry. I think there's a point were you have to accept the decent types on the academic left have already bailed and it's malice all the way down with what remains.

"To maintain intellectual rigor, one must therefore consider the entire vector of privileges. As soon as one does that, the unit of analysis shrinks to the individual (or otherwise very small groups)."

Very well put! This occurred to me not long after I came across the concept of intersectionality. I haven't seen my way past it.

high-quality comment

Yes, and intersectionality theory is mainly promoted by people with supposed 'multiple non-conformities' who are, nevertheless, in secure positions of relative wealth, power, and influence (as tenured academics) as compared to the average white, male, working class Trump voter who is purportedly 'privileged'.

In the fun house-mirror world of intersectionality, Sarah Jeong suffers from 'multiple non-conformities', while back in the real world, she's an effing Harvard Law grad with a gig at the NY Times. A woman whose status and privilege are so unassailable that she can spew racist invective over Twitter for years and keep her high profile media job. And those 'non-conformities' -- far from being a disadvantage -- are what actually makes her unassailable. They are the very source of her obvious privilege. Whatever 'intersectionality' might be hypothetically, in practice it is corrosive sludge that has a toxic effect on public discourse.

This is right up to the line of hate speech.

One cannot be “racist” against whites. Racism is about interlocking systems of power, privilege, and oppression.

For example, capitalism is racism. Free exchange and freedom of association is a form of an interlocking system of oppression built by white heterosexual men. Viewed by white men it’s a meritocracy, that oops! just so happens to put white heterosexual men in positions of power and control.

That is why we intersectional feminists are by definition socialists. This system is built to oppress and must be torn down.

Am I doing this right

"That is why we intersectional feminists are by definition socialists." I love that the supposed solution to white privilege is found in the writings of heterosexual white male Europeans (Marx, Engalls, et. al.) the most prominent spokesperson of whom is a powerful, heterosexual elderly white male (Bernie). Defeat white power structures! Vote Bernie Sanders! It's delicious!

Ban Hate Speech

"Am I doing this right?"

You win an academy award! You get a PhD in _______ studies!

"Sarah Jeong ...A woman whose status and privilege are so unassailable that she can spew racist invective ..."

"compared to the average white, male, working class Trump voter "

Except this is a bit of a myth. Trump had a lot of white male votes but the 'typical' Trump voter was higher rather than lower income. I notice there's a tenancy to imagine the beleaguered Trump voter as a good guy whose just suffering hard times because the coal mine laid him off of his day job, while the auto plant laid him off of his night job, and the family pig farm can't compete in a world of vegan food trucks all while he is addicted to opiods because he can't get good health care to deal with his bad back.

Fact is when Jeong cracked Chris Rock style jokes about whites being able to cook rice as well as Asians, the most likely people she had in mind would have been urban, white techie liberals who probably never voted red in their lives.

No. That was based on exit poll data that we now know was nonsense.

Turns out it was lower income whites after all who voted for Trump. Which should have been obvious from the get go.

Also the handwringing and gnashing of teeth of Sullivan et al is not about cooking rice or the cultural appropriation jokes. It’s about the genocide jokes and laughing at cruelty towards other human beings based on their race and gender.

Tempest in a teapot really. She will fit right in at the nytimes.

Not correct, mostly. White middle/lower class did come out more but Trump won $50+ while Hillary won the $50- group.

"Except this is a bit of a myth. Trump had a lot of white male votes but the 'typical' Trump voter was higher rather than lower income."

Arguable, but beside the point. Trump had lots of rural, white male lower-income voters. Intersectionality posits that they all enjoy much greater privilege than Sarah Jeong. Which is absurdity on stilts.

"Fact is when Jeong cracked Chris Rock style jokes about whites being able to cook rice as well as Asians..."

Ah, that's the spin? It was all just mild-mannered rice-cooking jokes? 'Stuff White People Like' material? Not quite what I've seen:

Arguable, but beside the point. Trump had lots of rural, white male lower-income voters. Intersectionality posits that they all enjoy much greater privilege than Sarah Jeong. Which is absurdity on stilts.

Actually you don't need intersectionality to argue that. You could argue that using old school Marxist 'white versus black' rhetoric. Intersectionality actually seems to have two useful things going for it here:

One, you can argue with it that people are treated unjustly in many ways so writing off all whites as privileged, say, is wrong. Hence Joeng can be fairly chided for humor that a decade ago would have been shrugged off completely.

Two, it does short circuit political correctness and the tenancy to try to define a set off limit rules and then 'play the game' by seeing how many pieces you can knock off the other side by finding violations. Instead since almost everyone one some level is both benefiting from a privilege and unjustly contributing to someone else's harm, the question should be what power is this person using over others, what harm are they pushing or not pushing, are they open to honest criticism? More thoughts on this case here (

"Hence Joeng can be fairly chided for humor that a decade ago would have been shrugged off completely." Of course, no such dismissal of any hint of racist speech can be allowed for any conservative or white male humor anywhere at any time. Thus Thomas Jefferson is to be erased, Joeng promoted and celebrated.

No conservatives are just hypersensitive snowflakes. Look at the silliness over removing Confederate Monuments and the hysterical 'they are taking away our wonderful history'. Question: How many Confederate monuments are there today versus 1945? The answer is a lot more...even though there's not been a single new Confederate vetern to honor between 1945 and today. If the rate of Confederate monument removal were increased by a factor of ten how many years to even get to the 1945 point?

I do not get the chain of logic.

Asian woman makes (in jest) multiple public comments about commiting genocide, violence, schadenfreude about an ethnic group.

Due to intersectional feminism, this is not morally equivalent to joking about genocide etc of x (insert other ethnicity, religious group, whatever). This is because white people have privilege that other groups do not and group identity is paramount. The specific circumstances of an individual’s privilege (200k a year gig at nytimes, Harvard Law grad, national platform) are irrelevant in comparison to group privilege or lack thereof (Asian, woman, lesbian).

I get all that, that’s standard cultural Marxism. I disagree with it but I understand it’s a popular lens through which to view the world among leftists.

Now you jump to the years in which confederate statues are built. I know that this was a Vox article months ago but what the f does that have to do with this conversation about intersectionality???

Hopaulius's comment was that any conservative accused of any type of racist speech is being tarred and feathered and sent out into exile....forced to wear hair shirts, beg for forgiveness etc. etc.

Except to me it seems there's quite a few conservative speakers who've been accused of racist speech (sometimes unfairly I'll grant but many times quite fairly) who are doing quite well for themselves. Yet will scream about their martydom all the way to the bank.

IMO this is more about shrillness than it is double standards. Evidence of shrillness being an issue, the reaction to the removal of a trivial amount of Confederate monuments.

This whole thing is an exercise in stupidity. But here goes.

Please name a top 10 newspaper or weekly periodical in which a white member of the editorial board openly makes jokes on twitter about mass murder of an ethnic minority.

Mass murder? Where?

It's noticeable how often Boonton's own comments undermine his point.

Clearly many of Trump voters were lower class whites. Clearly many of Jeong's comments were far worse than "Chris Rock style jokes".

Is Boonton an very good right wing troll attempting to undermine the left with bad points? Or is he just out of his intellectual league? Or does he let his emotions drive his comments?

It hardly seems clear about Trump's voters. Yes he won areas with lots of lower class whites but if we are talking about the 'typical' Trump voter that does require some type of average...and if we are being told exit polls are unreliable then how exactly can anyone say anything about the 'typical' Trump voter?

But why bring up 'lower class whites' so quickly? If Jeong's comments were racist against whites why is it necessary to trot out the image of the beleaguered coal miner? Esp. when it's beyond clear that's the last image she had in mind? Why the need to dress yourself in oppression while chiding others for doing the same?

"Why the need to dress yourself in oppression while chiding others for doing the same?" Look in the mirror and repeat this until it sinks in.

Well look I think Birtherism was, aside from a few eccentric kooks, racism. Yet I don't have to pretend Obama is suffering or suffered financially or socially. I'm perfectly comfortable with the fact that he is better off than 99.9% of blacks and 99.5% of whites and yet a racist attack on him is wrong.

Yet I noticed with the Jeong affair critics almost all insist on bringing up white working class, rednecks, and of course people from Appalachia...yet I doubt any of her tweets were directed towards any of those groups. These same groups are called into service whenever the discussion turns to 'Trump supporters'...yet the reality is the pundits, talking heads, tweet bots doing this calling are almost never members of any of these groups.

I don't think this problem is magically fixed by pulling the election results from Applachian counties and noting that Trump won big there. That fact doesn' t make them any less rhetorical props for many Trump's supporters and apologists.

"[Obama] .. yet a racist attack on him is wrong."

Ok, then why isn't Sarah Jeong's racism just as wrong. It appears as if your arguments are hypocritical.

"people from Appalachia.. ...yet I doubt any of her tweets were directed towards any of those groups."

Sarah Jeong - "“white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins”."

"Ok, then why isn't Sarah Jeong's racism just as wrong. It appears as if your arguments are hypocritical."

Default presumptions. for more info.

Sarah Jeong - "“white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins”."

Seems like hyperbole to me and irony. I guess if she wrote that white people were genetically to be dumber than Asians she could have become a fellow at a right wing think tank.

But again assuming you take this seriously, which I don't and I'm white, why the need by many to bring up various flavors of 'oppressed' white people (i.e. rednecks, coal miners, white working class, etc. etc.). If any white people had cause to take offense, I suspect it would be more likely cubicle bound techies. While they aren't often underground, they are usually well guarded from UV rays.

Boonton says, "why the need by many to bring up various flavors of 'oppressed' white people (i.e. rednecks, coal miners ...)"

I searched the comments for the word "coal " and came up with 4 hits and all 4 were in your comments. In other words, you are the only one talking about coal miners.

I think you are trolling your own trolls. You might be a troll among trolls, the troll king.

At the end of the day some people think in abstract terms and chains of logic.

To some the logic is irrelevant and abstract thinking is pointless.

You’re not even defending the cultural Marxist view which at least has a pseudo edifice of logic behind it.

You just bring up Trump, Obama and statues as distractions.

It’s pretty simple: Is it racist for a minority to make genocide jokes about another ethnic group, or not.

Some say yes because x some say no because y.

You instead throw fecal matter at the comments section and screech autistically about Trump and statues.

How is it hard "to identify an undervalued Surinamese Haitian trans female student in a wheelchair"? Like there just aren't very many of them so you can't find one? I mean once you found one, they would be pretty easy to identify, no?

I think the problem is that "intersectionalists" are looking to construct interlocking systems of power that remedy or compensate for discrimination. The point is not to be color blind and subject everybody to the same criteria (which would be racist, since different groups have different averages), but to systematically treat groups differently to equalize outcomes.

So we need a set of support programs and empowerments and rule adjustments and safe spaces, not just for large and powerful groups like gays or black women, but also for smaller groups like people in wheelchairs or transsexuals. And, crucially, the possible combinations of marginalizations. Just think about safe spaces: the Surinamese in the example will need to be shielded, not only from meeting men or whites, but also from ableists, cis-sexuals, heteronormatives, and from ethnicities and genders who may historically have oppressed the Surinamese - which in turn need to be shielded from their historic oppressors, of course.

The obvious solution is that everybody just stay in their room and don't answer the phone or the door, but it's more fun to assert your privilege as more-marginalized-than-thou and demand that the world adjust.

" but to systematically treat groups differently to equalize outcomes."

I would assume everyone on here realizes that striving for equality of outcome has a history of bad results.

4. Note that intersectionality may operate in a favor of a person rather than always operating against a person’s interests. For instance, black women arguably face less labor marker discrimination than do black men.

And how may "intersectionality" folks actually recognize black men as victimized more than black women in many ways? In fact, your own "non-linearity" and "multiple non-conformity toll" narratives themselves are set-ups against detection of such subtleties.

Intersectionality isn't the first concept to gain too many adherents who want to do too many things with it. However, the broad topic of "black men victimized more than black women in many ways" is present from the start, and drives some of the best foundational work.

To understand it's origins, just work through the "neutral principles" discussion and try to see any clear way of articulating the same concept (black men victimized more than black women in many ways) consistent with it.

So what you're saying is---someone who's scrawny will be bullied. But someone who's short and scrawny will be bullied even more. And someone who's poor, short, and scrawny will be bullied even more than a handsome, tall, gay man?

Make it statistical instead of absolute, that makes it more honest to reality.

A handsome, tall, gay man has a lot going for him. If he is also honest, conscientious, and agreeable he will have many opportunities in life. All six dimensions are good in many contexts. Do the last three make the first three irrelevant as in MLKs dream, or do the first three make the last three unnecessary? In the SJW world being gay Trump's all the others. Lest you think I am a biggot, one of my sons is gay and I love him dearly. It is interesting that in his teenage world being gay is not even interesting to anyone. What will the SJWs do when sexual preference is no longer novel?

MLK had it right.

1. There is a big problem with evaluating intersectionality based on its own self-description, which is what your post does.

2. If intersectionality really cared about the most marginalized, it would also try to do something about its own cause hijacked by virtue-signalling narratives, and cathartic demonization of select groups. Absent that, it is all a status game. Nothing more than a status game.

I would be surprised if there is even one sincere well-meaning sentence to be seen in all of intersectionality literature.

The big problem with Intersectionality, is that it removes allies.
Take for example Racism. In the 60s, when the rights movement started, if they said, "If you are against racism you must also be for gay marriage", it would have taken a lot of power from the movement. Today, fighting against sexual harassment has nothing to do with abortions, and yet they are linked. So a lot of Christians stay out.
Again with feminism. There shouldn't be a problem to be an Israeli supporter and a feminist. Yet there is.
Intersetionality is about tearing alliances down.

Does disagreement with radicals justifies staying out? If that's the case, there should be only fundamentalist religious people. Moderates should not exist because they prefer to stay out.

I think this gets it backwards. The concept of intersectionality provides an intellectual framework for recognizing the commonality in different groups and a basis for those groups to ally with one another. It is a challenging concept in that it requires a person to engage in some self-reflection. But we should want people to be self-reflective and we should expect them to be able to change their views and/or conduct based on such self-reflection. Moreover, my experience of intersectionality (limited as it may be) is that it is not a programmatic identity that requires adherence to a doctrine. It is more like an epistemological imperative to empathetically consider the experience of persons not like and to see the commonality in suffering caused by power cruelly exercised. It's not "if you are against racism you must also be for gay marriage" but that if you recognize the human suffering caused by racial discrimination and racist conduct you can also recognize and empathize with the human suffering experienced by people who experience discrimination and cruelty as a result of their sexual orientation. That recognition is a step in working to alleviate that suffering. Its more Matthew 25 and less Leviticus 11.

Yeah, I thought intersectionality refers to what happens when different identity groups run into each other, like at an intersection. Mainly, do they find common ground and synergy toward a cause or do they end up bitterly fighting over the same turf? (e.g. Who's more truly "oppressed")

I suppose if you are personally intersectional you have to decide which outgroup you truly identify with if push comes to shove between them

I think Tyler is performing penance for his use of the phrase “Robespierrean terror”.

How he let that slip I’ll never understand.

Agreed on both counts.

And or what it's worth, I have been historically on the left and happen to find intersectionality theory to be intellectual and ethically bankrupt, and further despite it because it seems to be counterproductive to its own goals. (Is there a Trump presidency without intersectionality zealots?)

Yeah. I can imagine the scene now after that unfortunate slip:

"What I...really....meant to say, Comrade Diversity Officer, was that the Social Justice mission has not gone far mean, we, should redouble our efforts against....against hate thought! Yes! there are too many reactionary criminals hiding behind the so-called "free-speech" or...or... patriarchal economics..... oh, oh, please spare me! I'll write a 10,00 word self-criticism showing unique equilibria are an oppressive racial construct...."

My assumption has long been that 'intersectionality' was created (consciously or not) as a way of facilitating the acceptance of progressive ideas among minority groups with non-progressive social values.
It's useless in practice because effective change requires prioritizing some things over others and in its whackier forms intersectionality means you can't prioritize.

'My assumption has long been that 'intersectionality' was created (consciously or not) as a way of facilitating the acceptance of progressive ideas among minority groups with non-progressive social values.'

Well, if you consider white feminists a minority group with non-progressive social values, sure. The author of the quoted text probably would, to be honest.

'Black legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” in her insightful 1989 essay, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.'

Definitely worth reading this link if you want to know where the term and concept originated - 'Crenshaw argues that Black women are discriminated against in ways that often do not fit neatly within the legal categories of either “racism” or “sexism”—but as a combination of both racism and sexism. Yet the legal system has generally defined sexism as based upon an unspoken reference to the injustices confronted by all (including white) women, while defining racism to refer to those faced by all (including male) Blacks and other people of color. This framework frequently renders Black women legally “invisible” and without legal recourse.


Crenshaw describes several employment discrimination-based lawsuits to illustrate how Black women’s complaints often fall between the cracks precisely because they are discriminated against both as women and as Blacks. The ruling in one such case, DeGraffenreid v. General Motors, filed by five Black women in 1976, demonstrates this point vividly.


Yet the court refused to allow the plaintiffs to combine sex-based and race-based discrimination into a single category of discrimination:

The plaintiffs allege that they are suing on behalf of black women, and that therefore this lawsuit attempts to combine two causes of action into a new special sub-category, namely, a combination of racial and sex-based discrimination…. The plaintiffs are clearly entitled to a remedy if they have been discriminated against. However, they should not be allowed to combine statutory remedies to create a new “super-remedy” which would give them relief beyond what the drafters of the relevant statutes intended. Thus, this lawsuit must be examined to see if it states a cause of action for race discrimination, sex discrimination, or alternatively either, but not a combination of both.'

As is all too often the case in the U.S., the actual origins and reasons for a term that originated from a perspective that is not connected to white feminists (except as a critique and implied rebuke) has been so completely co-opted that it can now be easily believed that a term for a concept originated by a black woman is actually a ploy on the part of those who are not part of a minority group to gain acceptance among minorities.

This is separate from whether the concept has any intrinsic value, or how the term has changed meaning over a generation. Nonetheless, the actual history of the term's origin is plainly documented.

(And who knows? If you read the article, you may enjoy the take downs of Brownmiller, Friedan, Sanger, et al, though the final sentence is fairly laughable at this point in history.)

" if you consider white feminists a minority group with non-progressive social values... against General Motors"

White feminists run General Motors? Hear them roar!

To be clearer, my assumption is that goal of intersectionality was to indirectly fight against sexism and sexual violence in the black community.
But US blacks are very hesitant to openly discuss in-group problems and so that often critiques by members are done by stealth.

Except GM isn't quite 'the black community' and if it was just about black women being discriminated against by black men (or a combination of black and white men), then you are just talking about gender discrimination.

The idea here seems to be the combination creates much more complicated dynamics. For example, without knowing more about the GM case, I could see how white managers at GM discriminate against blacks in general but black men and white managers may work together to keep black women out of certain jobs reserving them for black men instead.

let's simplify
men (black and white) didn't want women on the production line
whites (men and women) didn't want blacks in office jobs

though interestingly since that time black women have done much better in getting into office jobs than black men

and I wasn't referring to the original case but rather to a perceived usefulness of the idea within the black (and probably latino and some other) minority communities.

The idea does seem useful to me. You might modify your office job thesis to be something like there's a preference for either whites or black women in office jobs leaving black men in a disadvantage (although some mens' rights types will argue some places have actually started to prefer women in general in office jobs leaving all men at a disadvantage!).

Two groups who may be allied in some larger cause (black women and men would be against racial discrimination) might find themselves at cross purposes in the intersection (a black woman and black man are contenders for an office job,

"Two groups who may be allied in some larger cause ...might find themselves at cross purposes in the intersection"

aka politics.

no two persons (let alone groups) have the same priorities all the time

Indeed, although I think politics would be more about the tactics employed by these groups and individuals with different interests and priorities whereas this framework is more about understanding why these different interests and priorities exist to begin with.


Yes, I think there is something to that: "Black males beat up women and gays....because...*drum roll* White patriarchal power structure!"

Suppose one is looking for discrimination or "power imbalances" along N dimensions, where dimensions are things like race, gender, sexual orientation, trans status, etc. If one considers each dimension separately, then one can only do N "tests" on a given data set. (Test for racial discrimination, test for gender discrimination, etc.) Looking intersectionally, however, allows one to do at least 2^N-1 tests, more if some dimensions are more than binary valued. (2^N-1 rather than 2^N because 1 group can never be considered a victim: white, male, het, cis, etc.) Opportunities for p-hacking through intersectionality is *exponentially* larger than looking at each dimension separately.

Now, of course, not all intersectionality proponents do statistical tests. But, the p-hacking concept applies even to non-statistical analyses. For any given set of observations, including non-statistical observations, intersectionality provides exponentially more ways to construct an oppression narrative to fit those observations. Intersectionality is a great tool for generating unfalsifiable claims.


Exactly my statistical take. Can't find any discrimination in the first order parameters? Why, conjure a second, or perhaps a third order one, until finally the "bias" is found. All the information comes from the model (and its ideological assumptions), none from the data.

The whole thing is malefic nonsense; designed to advance unsupportable claims. The retreat of the radical left from science is complete.

Except it's pretty easy to find discrimination in first order claims. The problem with viewing this as just a way to create an unsupported oppression narrative is that such narratives can just as easily turn around on you. For example, the GM case cited here concerned discrimination against women on behalf of men and against black women on behalf of black men. If you were running an organization that centered only on white on black discrimination, this narrative is problematic as the case would actually cut against the interests of your male members.

IMO what you are describing is a more cut and dried 'crime and punishment' model where if the test says there's discrimination the organization is punished otherwise it's vindicated. I think this idea moves beyond that to say the stories are much more individualized and complex and if you are going to insist on seeing it as either villains or victims all the time you are just as likely to discover sometimes you are the villain...actually you are more often than you would think.

But if the problem is more how the system is structured then the 'moral war' way of thinking in terms of villains and victims gives way to more concentration on finding solutions. Think of economics. Sure you can think of unemployment as mean bosses laying off workers and not giving jobs to good people who want to work. That makes all the sense in the world if your getting trashed at the bar the day you got laid off but it isn't as useful as a framework that sees the boss as acting within a larger system where other factors are driving him to fire people. Of course the reason he fired you rather than the other guy may also be he's just a dick who has it out for you. That happens as well.

"Except it's pretty easy to find discrimination in first order claims"

Except of course, such effects disappear with first order controls. But multivariate statistics is ignored by the Left.

Plus you used "problematic" without laugh quotes.

The historical basis of intersectionality, as best I understand it, comes from a lawyer named Kimberle Crenshaw, and seemed pretty reasonable to begin with: a group of black women wanted to sue GM for employment discrimination. GM employed blacks (men, as workers) and women (whites, as secretaries), but didn't employ any black women. In order to have a case, the black women needed to show they had been discriminated against, and the lawyer came up with "intersectionality." In the context it began in, it certainly doesn't strike me as ridiculous.

If there were no black secretaries (men or women), that would seem enough to promote a claim without any need for 'intersectionality'.

Imagine there were plenty of black female secretaries and black male base level foremen but no blacks in mid or upper level management but some white females in mid level management.

If the courts' position is that you can file a suit for gender discrimination or racial discrimination but not both at once, that does seem to leave a black woman who wants to be a foreman out in the cold.

If she claims gender discrimination, the company can point to the women with higher positions to refute her claim. if she claims racial, again they can point to the black male foremen.

It seems rather silly to say discrimination only exists as a hypothetical "we won't hire blacks/women" type company.


This is almost always what happens. A sensible proposition to begin with that gets extrapolated to a nonsensical extent by the self-interested.

This paper attempts to make the idea of intersectionality precise using current sophisticated theories of causality

It's witchcraft.

Can someone explain to me, as if I were 5, what are systems of power?

Do you know how Fox News complains Hollywood hates Trump, yet he is President....yet the media hates him. Yet the Koch Bros will support people that more or less go along with covering up Russia but will try to undermine his trade war policies.

Imagine if everything was on his side. Note how everything may be on one side some of the time and some things may be on his side all of the time but there's no way all the things can be on his side all of the time.

The way I read this theory is that stories are much more complicated than an initial reading would give. It's not as simple as workers versus capitalists or white slave owners versus slaves and abolitionists.

What does your Trump and Koch obsessions have to do with intersectional feminist theory?

Other than mindless shoehorning and derailing of course.

The theory as described could be applied anywhere. Do you have an argument against the theory other than "gee I think this is something people would only talk about in the context of feminist concerns".

It's a new version of the the limited good

Intersectionality, as defined in the post, could easily be studied using standard methods of quantitative social science. For example, you could just collect data, run regressions with interaction terms and check what sort of coefficients pop up as significant. However, this is rarely if ever done. This is in part because "intersectionalists" tend regard empiricism as a white male conspiracy while treating anecdotes and personal experiences as dispositive. The fact that intersectionality as actually practiced relies on this sort of epistemology reveals that the definition Tyler posted is a "motte" position, something common-sensical and easy to defend but which does not actually correspond to what intersectionality is really about.

If intersectionality was studied quantitatively, the result would most often be that "non-conformities" and their interactions would explain at best a tiny percentage of variance (often with "wrong" sign) in study designs where their effects could be disentangled from those of non-intersectional, individual-level variables. So it does make tactical sense for intersectionalists to reject empiricism and the prospect of refutation.

Still waiting on them to reject electric power and the internet along with empirical analysis.

As Scott Alexander pointed out in his great essay on the subject, with social justice (and many other things) it always begins with reasonable self-definition yet becomes intellectually indefensible in practice

Do you have a link or a title/date for that post? Would like to read it

Maybe Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth 11/9/15 ?

This is what I was thinking of ( but that is good too, as well as

Is intersectionality just another term for describing the exploitation of resources? No, I'm not using "exploitation" in the negative sense of treating someone unfairly but rather in the positive sense of making maximum use of resources. Of course, "exploitation" could be doing double duty, as when someone is treated unfairly but by doing so it results in an overall more efficient use of resources. Thus, keeping wages low maximizes profits. Life is like that: there are winners and there are losers, the winners benefiting from the losers and the losers benefiting from the winners (without whom the losers would be worse off). Not surprisingly, I see an analogy: Apple's business model. An unparalleled financial success, it depends on a supply chain in Asia run by companies willing to invest in low return projects and holding those suppliers' feet to the fire (by, among other things, keeping the suppliers waiting for payment). Apple's business model is at once an exploitation in the sense of treating someone unfairly and an exploitation in the sense of producing enormous cash flow. Apple's business model benefits from choosing the right someone to exploit, namely a supply chain in Asia that relies on relatively cheap labor. Ironically, many Americans believe Apple's business model is an exploitation in the negative sense of treating someone unfairly, namely labor in America, even as it rewards Apple stockholders with a total capitalization exceeding $1 trillion, the largest in history. Intersectionality.

The problem I have with intersectionality is that it never seems to consider that the net benefit of some group membership changes based on situation and never seems to look to much at the intersections that matter.

In my grandparents' day, being "colored" was a detriment to most forms of social interaction. There was active violence by society writ large, rampant job discrimination, and precious few spaces where it could be called an asset. My parents' era saw many places where being black became an asset: most academic institutions, the civil service, and regions of the country for the economy and general social interaction. For me, virtually every employer treats me better from the moment I definitively establish that I am qualified and willing to work (i.e. often after I mention my time in the military). As long as I look a certain part and avoid certain locales, being classed as an African-American is an active career boost. Sure it isn't perfect and I understand that playing to stereotype comes with higher costs to me ... but the costs have changed.

And they have changed for having multiple identities as well. Having a small service related injury does not make my life harder; thanks to rules for veteran's hiring and affirmative action the combo of race, veteran status, and disability much better for life.

Which brings us to the real issue. What makes my life easy are the intersections that the theory always ignores: class, education, and income. Having joined the top 10%, I live with the assurance that I will have powerful people to vouch for me, that I can find the right lawyers to see justice enforced through professional contacts, and that my children will be afforded great opportunities. My education allows me all manner of job security and also serves as a strong social marker that I am the right sort of person. Money allows me to buy my way out of the hassles of life (e.g. Amazon) and to pay for maintaining class and educational standing (for the next generation).

The intersection of wealth, prestigious education, and good neighborhood is far stronger than race and gender; yet we hear frequently from intersectionalists about the trauma that Harvard educated persons must endure as they seek careers that will crest six figures by 30; often without ever having set foot in a high crime area.

Conversely, intersections that data shows are absolutely abysmal - like being born today in Appalachia with heroine dependence to destitute parents ... well those just never seem to come up. Or consider religion. Exactly how many black lesbian characters have been popular in the last decade? Orange is the New Black, The Wire, and L Word all had multiple black lesbians and plenty of other shows had one as well. Okay, how many black Pentecostal characters have been on television?

The latter group is larger in America and massively larger throughout the world. Yet culture ignores them. Further I would submit that for most of society announcing oneself as lesbian is a non-issue while announcing adherence to Pentecostalism means they back away slowly lest they find you holding a snake.

The privileges of the metropolitan elite in terms of location, money, education, and social networking are rarely if ever explored by intersectionality. The prejudices of the truly dominant "tribe" in America - the one from whom her officers of government, industrial leaders, and academic gatekeepers are all but wholly drawn - never seem to be explored.

The day I see intersectionality make an honest comparison between being the barriers faced by growing up in a depopulating area, following a "weird" Christian religion, having a marked non-metropolitan accent to something like being a black lesbian I might begin to consider this something other than a way for a bunch of privileged academics and their acolytes to bludgeon themselves into power.

The intersection of wealth, prestigious education, and good neighborhood is far stronger than race and gender; yet we hear frequently from intersectionalists about the trauma that Harvard educated persons must endure as they seek careers that will crest six figures by 30; often without ever having set foot in a high crime area.

1. I would disagree with you about ignoring these intersections. As the GM example that started this all demonstrates, the theory seems to begin with the fact that these stories are much more complicated than simplistic 'this group against that group'.

2. To what degree is this a function of the circle you run with? As a rule whereever a person is, the people above him are both keeping him down and are total idiots. Low level teaching gigs at Harvard are going to complain about how hard it is to get promoted, how unfair the people above them are treating them etc. They aren't going to sit around being thankful they aren't Syrian refugees or heroin addicts in coal country. You don't do this either. I guarantee when they announce who made partner this year you and your coworkers don't talk about how nice it is to be second fiddle in a place with so little crime and free coffee.

And liberalism has officially run its course.

A white liberal has whitesplained professional discrimination to a black man.

Puritans and their descendants are the plague we will live with forever.

1. Google suggests that these sorts of intersections are being largely ignored. Again take Pentecostals; this is a religion that has been disproportionately poor,has been integrated for over a century, and has over 100 million adherents in Africa. Exactly where is this explored in the literature? After all, they have far more alienating beliefs to most of the educated class that run NYC, SF, and DC. I am willing to be wrong, so just show me one paper exploring the intersection of Pentecostalism and blackness (or related grouping) for every one exploring blackness and a sexual orientation (e.g. lesbianism). You can claim it is not group vs group, but some of the most marginalized identities in the US and the world are simply not discussed in the literature.

Somehow the representation of intersectional characters is all the rage ... unless you happen to belong to disfavored minority groups. And for pretty much every black Pentecostal I know, their religion is more core to their professed identity than anything explored in intersectionality.

Frankly I think it highly telling that I had to go to a mandatory training on intersectionality and had the presenter mock Creationists. Maybe some obscure theorist is out there, but their work is swamped by people who just happen to only work on the groups preferred by the elite institutions of this country.

2. Zero. My circle include docs from Harvard and Hopkins and runs down to the inmates I treat. I live in one of those rare spaces where I actually do have to interact with the wide breadth of America. If I want to be really snarky I can include the medical service I have done overseas.

Even with my closest peer coworkers, we have a certain amount of parochialism in all our politics (e.g. who gets what position in the hospital system, who gets what position in the professional societies) ... but my circles are not limited to griping about my superiors. We routinely gripe about idiots in DC who issue regulations about medical care that can only work in large metropolitan areas that can both afford large compliance overhead and leave enough players in the field to spur competition. We gripe about local politicians who get suspiciously large campaign donations from the worst class of malpractice lottery scum. We gripe about Epic's inability to build functional EMR software.

What we live is seeing people make dumb decisions aided and abetted by fools who never consider people who are addicts, psychotic, or both. Somehow having rank chemical dependence is just not an issue for intersectionality, even if you are literally born with heroine on board. Somehow intersectionality scholars feel free to become language police and attack those who use last decade's favored phrasing ... even if they are autistic, mildly demented, or have fronto-temporal dysfunction.

I am sorry that you feel oppressed if somebody uses the wrong pronouns, but maybe the autistic guy who literally has panic attacks with routine breaking of his routine can be spared an HR visit that drives an ER visit? Maybe we could stop saying that certain song lyrics are okay for people to say only in certain color skins ... and avoid the resulting beatings when somebody gets nice and high and cannot remember when terms have been reclaimed, used ironically, or are commenting on systemic oppression.

If intersectionality is just whining about those over your head ... then let's stop pretending it has moral authority or use for the rest of society.

Me, I'm bloody tired of having patients with significantly below average IQ finding out the hard way about the difference between saying "colored" and "people of color". And I really am tired of people who have never set foot in a high crime area telling them that's they just need to think harder about some schema when they can barely figure out the bus map.

And above all I am tired of wasting my time, my nurses' time, and everyone bloody else's time on intersectionality seminars and non-discrimination indoctrination that have been proven to have no affect, at best.

We burn millions of dollars worth of time and resources each year for no affect ... except it keeps the bureaucrats, who just happened to study intersectionality in their elite colleges, off our backs. So no, give me those monies to actually treat patients. Or let me fire a dozen of the paper pushers who try to make sure we never mistreat some intersectional patient or employee and actually hire enough case managers to maybe increase medication compliance rates. Or heck pay a few more docs to get certified to prescribe Suboxone and maybe actually save a few lives.

But do tell, what are the success stories of intersectionality? Which spaces has it made objectively or quantifiably better? What is worth the untold mountains of cash being shoveled at it?

+1 for the commentary on wasted resources, plus regulatory and opportunity costs. Thanks.

"The day I see intersectionality make an honest comparison between being the barriers faced by growing up in a depopulating area, following a "weird" Christian religion, having a marked non-metropolitan accent to something like being a black lesbian I might begin to consider this something other than a way for a bunch of privileged academics and their acolytes to bludgeon themselves into power."


What an insightful and powerful comment. Thank you for that. And thanks to Tyler for bring back comments again. I wouldn't want to miss comments like yours.

"Overall, I believe the intersectionality concept is underrated by many people in the mainstream and on the political Right"

You keep selling that but we ain't buying.

It's just signalling. He has a reputation to uphold.

When I was young, I recall a lot of All in the Family and Phil Donahue shows which offered a rather simplistic view of discrimination. You had Archie Bunker who was racist versus everyone else who wasn't. Although as time went one even there I noticed the stories were a bit more complicated. Archie said outrageous things, but he almost never had any power to actually do anything and he rarely seemed to actually seek to harm anyone. Often it seemed like he was getting screwed over himself (I remember his union went on strike for a cost of living index, they settle for a 10% raise which makes him very happy yet his son-in-law realizes with inflation running at say 8% per year that raise will disappear before long).

In the discussion though, there was a lot of monolithic group thinking. For example, it was 'blacks' against 'white racists' (the bulk of whites were assumed to be on the right side of things so it was a contest to convince them that the minority of white racists needed to be restrained). The discussion of feminism was likewise caught in quite a bit of cartoon group against group (consider the 'Battle of the Sexes' both as a concept and the recent movie).

In many ways this idea seems to be exactly what conservatives were demanding for decades. Steer away from massive group think and consider people as individuals. AS individuals people can both benefit in some circumstances unjustly and be harmed. A white wife, for example, may have a higher household income because her husband's job systematically discriminates against minorities but at the same time her husband had the power to walk into a bank and cash out a bank account in her name simply because he was 'the husband' (yes that was a thing back then).

IMO it seems like intersectionality is an admission that cartoon Marixism that tries to reduce everything to a set of good versus bad groups is hopelessly simplistic. Reality is while groups may work together to further their interests as a whole all groups are in reality coalitions of sub-groups and interests will align in complex ways. Yes the forest exists but at the same time every tree is out for itself and each leaf has it's own interests.

Where this all ends up is a lot of deescalation and more recognition of individuality. It's actually the opposite of identity politics since identity politics works when you ignore individual differences and subsume people into larger rather than smaller groups.

I blame John Venn.

He asked me to tell you that you are out of the circle now. Don't piss Venn off.

Threadwinner by a mile (1.6 km).

intersectionality- so the sociology dept 1 gives everbody a brand/s then assigns a social value to each brand and then they sit around all day
talking about their brands. the sociology dept. has plagarized the
plot of pretty much every episode of that kardashian show

we are all kardashians now? this is the journey to death by bloody diarrhea in doritoville
bloody diarrhea is a pretty metric
if the incidence of infectious bloody diarrhea and itchy worms is going up it means the sociology dept has taken their peepers off the poopers;
they have failed in their mission to keep the poops away from the peeps; the people away from the poople.
no como donald cortinas doritos

1 if their studies don't reproduce, why do they get to decide the
value of each brand?

Questions arise.

1) At what point does weaponized sociology BEGIN to take account of the social phenomenon of "self-marginalization"? (To this day I have never seen or heard any sociologist even entertain the startling idea.)

2) What close relationship does "intersectionalism" enjoy with the law of parsimony?

3) What might the intersectionalists' definition of "power" consist of? What specific aspect of "power" enforces perceived social stratification? (Someone here would have to account for exercises of "power" that result in self-marginalization, a concept that seems to have no place in intersectional theory: whose "powerful" assertions are keeping "self-marginalization" out of public discourse and sociological theorization?)

1. What do you mean by 'self-marginalization'?
2. Parsimony favors simple narratives over complex ones. Here's classic 1960ish style race relations story. Mean boss thinks blacks can't do a certain job well, won't give them a chance. Talented black guy is forced on mean boss. He does the job very well. Mean boss grudgingly sees the error of his ways. Everyone is happy. Reality is far more complicated.

3. I think power is diverse but real. Money is power. Political position is power. Yet it seems very clear to me rich or politically powerful conservatives feel victimized that the culture grants them almost no power and I grant 'Hollywood liberals' crave the political power of the religious right...even though today a gay married couple can get nothing but shrugs even in the deep south despite the combined efforts of a thousand televangelists decrying it as the end of civilization. Clearly there are different types of power and it's rare for any one person to have huge amounts of all types. Nonetheless power is real and if it is meaningful to talk about IQ as a general concept that some have more and others have less of, the same can be said of power.

At least provisionally "self-marginalization" to my provincial mind is what it looks like: choices made by numerous individuals that come to typify or characterize the group or sub-group population they most closely identify with. Self-marginalization on this score might consist of markers like self-cultivated attitudes toward (and/or rates of) literacy and numeracy, choices in personal style and fashion (manic devotion to tattoos surely is elective, so is dabbling in science fiction fashion trends like TG celebrity), or even attitudes toward temporality and history (if Progress is the beckoning god of Time that progressives pretend that it is, that woeful ignorance of history should result among client populations of tender academic regard comes as no huge surprise).

So self-marginalizatin would be like going super deep on being a Trekkie. You'd be written off by lots of people. On the other hand you're going to meet people and have experiences no who doesn't go super deep will.

Like is being an Olympic athlete self-marginalization? Yes you may make lots of money but that's only a fraction. You're going to have experiences and meet people no one else with a 'normal life' will...

Is self-marginalization just opportunity cost?

I'm no economist so I dare not say, but styling self-marginalization as "opportunity cost" at least begins to possess explanatory power.

Tyler's characterization of intersectionalism offers no cogent account of human agency I can discern, much like academic sociology more broadly.

Well one thing I've thought about is that consumption by a human is fundamentally limited. You could be a central banker having a drink with five or six other bankers at Davos downing $1000/glass wine or a Trekkie having a $2 beer with five or six other Trekkies. But you can only drink with so many people at any given time and there are only so many nights in a lifetime you get to drink with people.

So the whole world cannot be central bankers hanging at Davos. All niches will end up getting filled so if you're not going to hang with drinking buddies at Davos you will end up at the Trek convention or whatnot.

You can say that's human agency but at the same time when you have a lake the water molecules will fill in all the nooks and crannies one way or the other.

Overall, I believe the intersectionality concept is underrated by many people in the mainstream and on the political Right. It suffers from some of the problems that would be predicted by…the intersectionality concept.

I think its advocates may be its biggest problem. I'm not opposed to intersectionality in theory and agree with your comment about it being conceivably underrated. Yet I rarely if ever see it invoked in a positive or intellectually rigorous way and very often see it overstated or used in some fashion that seems bad to me.

Now, maybe that says something about me, about what I read and hear, rather than about the concept. But I rarely see it used to good ends.

A theory's value, though, is not determined by the quality of its advocates.

A lot of you are missing the point that as you get into greater and greater overlapping modes of oppression and power, the gradations and refinements of oppression experienced by different people eventually reduces to the level of the individual. So thus if you take intersectionality to it's logical conclusion, you end up right back at individualism. You end up arguing for a system which treats all individuals uniformly equally. Libertarians should be in favor of that. Hence rather than mocking intersectionality and resisting it, we should be adopting the concept and driving it full bore to it's logical end point.

"So thus if you take intersectionality to it's logical conclusion, you end up right back at individualism. "


I tend to agree, except that doing so will call libertarians out on their bluff. A system that really treated individuals totally individually would also flatten and address a lot of subtle biases that we are all very used too.

For example, consider the resume studies that show swapping a 'white' or 'black' name on the same resume alters the results of call backs. A company that seriously said we're not letting group biases into our hiring process, ironically, might create a hiring process that seemed radically alien to many of its workers....(i.e. no friends/family recommendations, names stripped from resume review, interviews conducted blindly).

".(i.e. no friends/family recommendations, names stripped from resume review, interviews conducted blindly)."

And perhaps we could consider the same treatment for college admission forms. The solution to racism is not additional racism.

Just figure out what a college's production function is first.
At least a business is somewhat self-contained in that you can measure it's profits even if figuring out the contribution individuals or depts make to it is impossible.

Sorry Boonton,

The resume studies are a classic example of how hard it is conceal information from recruiters, even with the best of liberal intentions. Black and white candidates have identical college resumes? Which one, under affirmative action, will have the higher IQ?

A resume study would send the same resume but change the names around. Response rates in theory should not be statistically different for any given resume. In other words, if resume 123 is rejected under a white name it should be under a black one and vice versa.

Bless, silly, Boonton.

You proceed from the assumption that the Black name conveys no information other then "black". Hence the disparate rate can only be prejudice. I can understand how you think that.

Wrong, though.

no friends/family recommendations, names stripped from resume review, interviews conducted blindly

We really should have all of those things, don't you think?
I've always been told that "it's not what you know, it's who you know", as if that intrinsic unfairness was inevitable. But it shouldn't be who you know, it should be what you know. Why shouldn't it be possible and desirable to implement hiring systems that don't advantage people based on connections? With appropriate computing resources, it should be a net benefit to a company to be able to identify underused talent by not relying on peer networks to find employees.
Wouldn't a world in which networking wasn't necessary be an improvement?

Why can't I prefer a relative for a job in a company I own? Why can't I use all information about socialisation, IQ, and attitude in hiring decision?

Remind me what the libertarian ethic is, again.

You can certainly use all information in hiring g decision, but most people likely consider it unethical to prefer relatives only because they are relatives. The libertarian position supports having informal norms against practices like nepotism along with classism, racism etc. We want a society where people treat each other like individuals not members of tribes (i.e. less favoritism towards blood relatives in business).

That said, family owned businesses and partnerships are a different story. Having a partner/owner from your family is different than hiring a blood relative in a publicly owned company.

Agreed. Just wanted to point out you moved too quickly to the default "no nepotism" position.

A world without networking is literally impossible, because homo sapiens is a social species.

Highly social people are probably always going to have some advantages, but people who don't network aren't necessarily going to be less able employees. There are lot of jobs that don't require networking skills for the actual job, and networking ability isn't necessarily correlated to social adjustment. Many people make fine coworkers and friends without being extremely gregarious social butterflies. It's probably advantageous to a company to cast a wide net to find people who aren't that extroverted, because they are more likely to be undervalued.

Bad studies never die

"The data show that, on average, a person with a distinctively black name—whether it is a woman named Imani or a man named DeShawn—does have a worse life outcome than a woman named Molly or a man named Jake. But it isn’t the fault of his or her name. If two black boys, Jake Williams and DeShawn Williams, are born in the same neighborhood and into the same familial and economic circumstances, they would likely have similar life outcomes. But the kind of parents who name their son Jake don’t tend to live in the same neighborhoods or share economic circumstances with the kind of parents who name their son DeShawn. And that’s why, on average, a boy named Jake will tend to earn more money and get more education than a boy named DeShawn. DeShawn’s name is an indicator—but not a cause—of his life path." Levitt and Dubner, 2005.

Errr ok but resume studies control for this by swapping the names around on resumes without changing anything else.

The quoted part above means that stereotypically black names say more than just the name of an individual. Similarly, Bubba, Neveah, and Cooter say enough about the subject that call backs may be less likely as well.

So you're saying even if two people have identical resumes, a 'stereotypical' black name provides useful information about the 'type' of person is therefore it makes sense that just change the name on a resume justifies it's rejection rate being different.

Yet it sounds like you're just institutionalizing bias. If DeShawn has the same experience and accomplishments, as Jake, then why should his prospects be short changed?

If I didn't know better I'd say you are basically pushing affirmative action on behalf of whites but keeping it a bit undercover by having it blend into the general atmosphere.

You would think that but that is a personal flaw that you have to overcome. The point I made was that very stereotypically black names don't only signify race in the same way that the stereotypically white names which I suggested above say white but also speak to class. I am curious as to what you next intentional misunderstanding of my point will look like.

People don't generally choose their own names. So you're basically just substituting classism for racism here. That guy was born lower class so we should just assume that he's going to be a worse employee, independent of whatever his resume says? I mean literally this is what you're arguing - ignore the resume and look at his name as an indicator of class, and then assume based on class that he's less competent.

I’m not arguing that judging based on name or class or race should be done. I am arguing that the ‘name resume study’ doesn’t prove racism. I think you have to approach my posts very uncharitably to misunderstand my point but maybe I wasn’t clear?

OK I can understand if you want to argue the name resume study doesn't prove least in the sense of intentional racism on the part of the resume screeners but it does seem to indicate racism in the system.

If not then could you articulate what would be evidence of racism?


+1. Tried to make the same class-information point to Boonton above. To be fair, he does seem to have taken it on board here.

Looping in Sure's comment with this here what I'm getting is you're saying there's a class bias in play. So what if the resume study broke the names into white upper/lower class and black upper/lower class?

A totally non-racial bias would mean the classes would stick together. I don't think this is likely. Do upper class blacks and whites overlap a lot culturally? Do they vote for the same party? Listen to the same music? I don't think so. it would be odd if they were totally united in hiring.

A partial bias is more likely. For example, if the two are equal class wise the white candidate may be preferred but if you have an upper class black versus a lower class white, the white may lose.

So here's where intersectionality comes into play, I think. There's two biases at work here. The class and the race. If you were just testing for race, it's possible you may find no bias at all if you hit the organization with a huge number of lower class white names and a lot of upper class black names.

A name like DeShawn does not just signal blackness. A year or so ago a study looked precisely at this and found that DeShawn is a name given disproportionately by African American mothers, but even more disproportionately by minimally educated black mothers. Conversely, names like Jalen are also disproportionately used by African American mothers ... but are not judged as "black" by whites; Jalen is used disproportionately by college educated African American mothers.

And my own experience bears this out. I can meet an individual and know with reasonable accuracy if he grew up poor, with a single mother, and exposed to crime and drugs. Mom picking a non-conformist name that is easily recognized as such is a signal.

Or look at the other way when Jaiyesimi becomes "Jay" he is signaling conformity and a willingness to abide by middle class expectation. This is particularly important on the low end of the wage scale where willingness and proclivity to follow rules is of utmost importance.

Frankly, I am still waiting for the logical study to come out: are people named DeShawn more likely to be fired or quit than people named Jake? Can we build a large enough dataset where all participants are African American? Would that satisfy the intersectional critics that this is about class signalling more than race?


I'm not seeing the libertarian angle here.

Sufficiently extensive intersectionality analysis would presumably "uncover" (given how statistically honest the left is) a ridiculous "oppressor/oppressed" score for everyone based on a vector of their (probably arbitrary) characteristics. Then the left would simply "know" that Black males were +7, White Females -2, and Chinese Disabled Lesbians +12, etc, etc. That's where the madness will end up, even though the scores have no relation to the actual "advantages" of any individual. Why you could, using the principal components or Minimal Spanning Trees, even compose "oppressor classes" to harass. Scientifically, of course.

I reject the whole Marxist notion of oppressor/oppressed groups outright. I think the characteristics and relationships like "racism" that the left lists have almost no causal power in driving social outcomes; they're just spurious correlates of the real genes and behaviours that the left can't talk about.

That would assume these figures remain stable over time and that they were linear.

It also assumes that many decisions are made today based on pure numeric scores. Most decisions are not made on purely quantitative metrics. It isn't like Dungeons and Dragons where we just adjust the dice rolls and scores.

I reject the whole Marxist notion of oppressor/oppressed groups outright. I think the characteristics and relationships like "racism" that the left lists have almost no causal power in driving social outcomes

Really? You think the social hierarchy of today's society is completely flat? Nobody has any unfair advantages due to various kinds social stratification? Everything is completely meritocratic and determined by innate genetic abilities, with no bias or prejudices of any kind influencing outcomes at all? You think we've acheived a perfect state of social equality , then?

Also, there's nothing particularly "Marxist" about the concept of oppressed/oppressor. You can't be pro-liberty without being anti-oppression.

Not quite that extreme...but yeah (talking narrowly about the west)...I'd say we're not too far off meritocratic. Our resulting society may be equitable, but it sure as heck won't be equal.

And technically, I said the characteristics chosen by the left have almost no explanatory power. I do think IQ (mostly genes) and culture have vast explanatory power. Contra-Picketty, I think legacy capital endowment has only a modest amount, though there is also a good degree of government/corporate expropriation and rent seeking. I would label that as the single largest distortion.

Actually I should clarify that. By "treats individual equally" I don't mean mean without regard to individual merit. But rather without regard to arbitrary factors like race and gender, or apparent superficial disabilities (i.e. disabilities not relevant to job performance). As in what Tyler is saying as "identifying underused talent". That would include someone like an autistic, short, near-sighted nerdy white male. By taking intersectionality to it's logical conclusion you would arrive at a society where the autistic nerd would not be socially disadvantaged, because society would have evolved norms which demand universal social acceptance of every kind of oddness.

In a way, it would actually be a kind of return to formal norms of etiquette like in the 18th century - we'd have strict social rules that would effectively level the social playing field between "alpha" white men and everyone else.

We’re not robots.

A deciding factor for hiring decisions is fit. Fit!

You have to spend a solid chunk of your time with your coworkers.

And the truth is for the vast majority of elite jobs it’s more about prestige and pedigree. There are more than enough smart kids to hire. I’ll take the ones that are not irritating and have a solid network to help grow business.

There is no world in which a company hires without regard to fit.

There are lots of people who will "fit" with

There are lots of people who are potential "fits" that aren't in the immediate peer network of your current employees.

Not the point.

What if their parents/relatives are EVPs at potential client firms?

What if they will be on their way to an Ivy League MBA soon and I can leverage their network after they come back?

There are the idiots who cite the Duke Power nonsense, and there are the people who are well meaning but have no clue how the actual business world works.

The well connected elite family 22-30 year old is much more valuable to me than a scrappy smart underdog who is marginally better at math.

That's true, but is it fair?
What if you had a way to reach those other elite families that guy is connected to without hiring the well connected Harvard MBA? What if society operated in a different way so you didn't need that social connection to get the ear of people at potential client firms? Nothing wrong with having codes of conduct in business that favor openness towards outsiders rather than closed in-group networking. it's not the way it works now, but it might be a more ideal state to aim for.

So you want to create the New Soviet man to reach the “ideal state.”

I’ll take a hard pass.

You’re definitely unique. A Marxist social engineering “libertarian.”

Let me know how it shakes out.

I think it's kind of extreme to characterize having business ethics that frown upon insider networks as "social engineering". We're talking about civil society and social norms, not reeducation camps.

Intersectionality has been weaponized in bastardized form as a tool to attack a old, white male scapegoat for the political difficulties of the young and diverse elitist journalistic-political class. An instructive example is the recent Sarah Jeong controversy. Sarah is a somewhat recent immigrant from South Korea and graduate of Berkeley and Harvard Law School. She was working in journalism writing thought pieces about social media through a racial and gender lens. She was recently picked up for the NYT editorial board. Directly upon this announcement, various sources began publicizing tweets she had made in which she made race and gender based attacks on white men. The media largely came to her defense because she, a person with no familial legacy of racial discrimination in the USA, she a graduate of the most elite schools in the country, and she, a person with a voice greater than 99.9% of those who she was attacking, is a woman of color.

Intersectionality is at its root a very basic concept. It could be summarized as "there is a multitude of context to take in to account in social interaction". Unfortunately, the political left ignores most of that context. Instead, they use a bastardized form of intersectionality which ignores class, educational pedigree, wealth, influence, income; power, because on those measures, much of their privileged position is called in to question. There is no question that Sarah Jeong has more power than the vast majority of those at whom she spews racist and sexist garbage, but the left just doesn't care.

The NYT/Jeong affair. Everyone has a take on her unfortunate tweets. David French in NR describes her comments as racism against whites. Reihan Salam in The Atlantic hews closer to the truth by calling it white-bashing that results from edgelord trolling and elite signaling. What both of these men miss is the intersectionality of ethnicity and sex. She is bullied because she is a female, Asian and intelligent in a dominantly white male space. Her opinions chafe. Does anyone remember Gamergate?

In our society, weakness of any kind is not to be respected. Instead there is respect for blind ferocity as long as it conforms to convention. Be as provocative as you want but do not confront hierarchical systems. Naturally, Jeong utilized aggressive male tactics to take on her bullies and to deflect the vulnerability of her ethnicity and sex. Ask yourselves, if she were white or male would we be having this overwrought conversation?

> Naturally, Jeong utilized aggressive male tactics to take on her bullies and to deflect the vulnerability of her ethnicity and sex.

False. She had a nearly endless stream of anti-white tweets going back many years. Someone collected them. The vast majority weren't in response to anyone at all.

> Ask yourselves, if she were white or male would we be having this overwrought conversation?

No, because then she would have been fired on the spot and summarily un-personed from respectable society.

Precisely. It’s also interesting that everyone focuses on her racist tweets and not the ones against cops. To me she sounds like another silly pseudo-nasty woman signaling to her fellow bubble heads about how woke she is. And since nothing is as post-modern as irony, I love how she is the NYT’s expert on social media — kids, don’t use Twitter the way she did!

"Ask yourselves, if she were white or male would we be having this overwrought conversation?"

No, obviously she would have been fired already.

"Naturally, Jeong utilized aggressive male tactics to take on her bullies and to deflect the vulnerability of her ethnicity and sex. "

So, you can be as racist, bigoted and cruel as you want to be if someone at some point bullied you? If some black people bullied her then her saying that she enjoyed tormenting black people and wanted the black population to go extinct would be A-OK?

If she were white or male she would not have been considered for this particular post. The outrage if anything is muted by its being widely understood except by a few old Boomer subscription-cancellers (who probably lie, it's extremely difficult, nigh impossible, to cancel your Times subscription!), that she has the perfect qualifications for the current NY Times.

Still, it's odd how little hay the Times-bashers have managed to make out of the obvious untruths in its statement ("she was responding to mean people" and it ended in 2015). A quick perusal demonstrates that she herself was clearly a troll, with the same one-or-two-note obsession as any troll; but absent the wit of so many trolls (again, perfect: the NY Times is definitely not in the joke business). As far as giving white men the finger, a perusal of four years' worth of tweets shows plainly that it is white women feminists she detests most of all:

The teeth-bared hatred felt for white lady feminists is the sine qua non of "intersectionality." I don't know who thought of it first. Caitlin Flanagan, often so amusing, used to, gratingly, adopt a version of it, and she's not beloved of the left, or of feminists.

As someone was saying above, the notion of increasing one's Pokemon points, in Steve Sailer's useful shorthand, until you've achieved something like a "unique" identity politics indistinguishable from individualism - seems no more likely an outcome, to me, than a reversal of feminism itself.

If systems of power oppress people via race, gender, class etc then removing one or more systems of power should produce positive results.

But why do blacks have less upward mobility in black-majority areas, and why do blacks emigrate from black-majority countries?

Why are Muslims better off in non-Muslim countries?

Why aren’t women or minorities forming all-women or all-minority companies, thus removing an oppressive system of power, and flourishing?

Why do Asians arrive as minorities with weak language skills and quickly thrive in non-Asian societies?

The real world shows that people with characteristics that supposedly trigger oppression (race, gender, religion) almost always perform better when exposed to allegedly oppressive systems of power (men, whites, Christians, wealthy people).

This "intersectionality" sounds like a basic econometrics problem, no? Could you not just run regressions with binary variables for these categories and also test interaction terms?

For college performance, relative to whites I can tell you that the variables for black and latino have a negative sign, even controlling for SAT scores. (Asian is less certain but also possibly negative, a whole post unto itself). The sign for female is positive. (Men choosing harder majors is part of it, but it's not the whole story). I don't know about the interaction terms, but I suspect they aren't particularly large or significant in many cases.

That said, is there psychological stuff beyond the common measures of socioeconomic well-being? Probably. But I would question whether indulgent pseudo-academic whining is not the best way to deal with that. I think this is mostly done 1) because it is subsidized by the university system, and 2) as a hustle for more affirmative action.

Well, you could, if statistics wasn't an oppressive tool of white science :-)

C'mon, intersectionality advocates aren't interested in the science...

The entire pseudo-theoretical edifice of intersectionality is just an elaborate psychic weapon to aim at whites. It's nothing more than that.

A simple cheat-sheet for intellectual weaponry of this type is to look for phrases like "minority", "marginalized groups", "historically underrepresented", etc. These words don't mean what they mean... they mean "not white". Somehow these theories never seem to apply to Arabs, to Japanese, to the Han, or anyone else.

"Of color" is a more explicit way to say "not white", a bolder formulation on the part of the combatants that suggests their weapons are working.

It's racial warfare, plain and simple.

For instance, black women arguably face less labor marker discrimination than do black men.

Maybe being a woman is not a disadvantage at all. maybe being a black man is an advantage to some. For example if you want to feared (a form of respect) it might be an advantage to be a black male. lest you think nobody wants that, I think some of the drive to get tattooed is to be feared so some people desire it.

The fact that black males commit violent crimes at 13x the rate of black females may explain most of this topic.

It is impossible to analyze "power" in the social sense that intersectionality's proponents, Foucauldians, and critical social theorists do. The very act of attempting to analyze power, including defining it and hypothesizing who has it and who does it, is inherently an act of taking power and thereby rendering the attempted analysis, regardless of its prior truth, inapplicable.

Which I suspect is the point.

All these categories of race, gender, LGBT, etc, etc. are overlapping distribution on other relevant parameters like IQ or education or knowledge, or worth ethics, and the categories and their intersectionality provides zero information about individuals.

For rational decision-making purposes like hiring the best employees for an opening, all this category and intersectionality information is near useless. Even the handicap category is only relevant for a subtype of handicaps depending upon the opening.

If these irrelevant "official" categories are not ignored in the decision-making process, a non-optimal decision will result and the competitive position of the firm will be lower. You will be leaving money on the table.

It is only silly social sciences that think these "categories" are really relevant. Why not all possible categories from IQ to religious beliefs to whether their grandfathers were subject to starvation (effects individuals life expectancy) or what strains of bacteria they have on their skin (impacts skin cancer probabilities).

The social sciences only appear to be able to think in binary categories with intersectionality only being combinations of binary categories. However, real people are in hundreds of possible continuously variable categories and can't be even approximately described in a few binary categories.

Even their binary categories are becoming continuous as interbreeding is making race or ethnic background and becoming a joke like Senators E. Warren's American Indian claim. If you go back far enough, we all came from Africa and good luck with that observation. Meanwhile, the "whites" have some Neanderthal blood.

It is only silly social sciences that think these "categories" are really relevant. Why not all possible categories from IQ to religious beliefs to whether their grandfathers were subject to starvation (effects individuals life expectancy) or what strains of bacteria they have on their skin (impacts skin cancer probabilities).

Which is of what value to you in hiring? How long is it reasonable to expect a worker to stay with a company? Two, three, five years? How critical is it for a company to avoid an employee from getting skin cancer during the, say, five years it can expect to have him or her on the payroll before they go somewhere else or the company changes?

The answer is almost certainly nearly zero for almost every company on earth hence what would be the value of a test to exclude people with slightly higher risks of skin cancer, which already has a low risk of appearing on a person in any given 5 year period? Acquiring information is not a free good. Even just considering the testing alone and you're not able to pass any cost-benefit analysis.

Also you're assuming the employees are like atoms being assembled into molecules. A lot of behavior is driven by the culture and context people are in. It may be easier to change the culture to adapt to the available employees rather than data mining millions of employees to find a fit.

Do tell, is your argument that skin color and gender assigned at birth/genitalia is of some value to employers? If so, could you please rank the relative worth of various measures of melanin content?

This is a pretty rational and fair attempt at explaining a concept that is often poorly communicated. It is not as sophisticated a concept as its proponents make it, but it is a useful one if discussed intelligently. However like many ideas fueled by identity politics, Twitter rage, and so on, it's too often presented as immediately requiring dogmatic embrace, which makes it easy to ridicule. However the idea that people can be multiply disadvantaged by norms is pretty obvious.

It is absurd to attempt to measure inequality by looking at individual physical characteristics. It ignores the most important human quality, the mind and its philosophy.

A tall rich white male with a great education may be a fool who believes in nonsense like this and wastes his life promoting it in some dumb government school and a short brown female with a poor education who is clever might realize what a load of nonsense it is and live a joyful and creative life. Philosophy and free will are what count, not all these irrelevant variables of circumstance.

This entire rhetorical game is envy on stilts and designed to encourage people to blame each other for their misfortune and to base their happiness on comparisons to others rather than the pleasures of creativity and achievement.

That "short brown female" is much more likely to be harassed and possibly injured (or worse) by the police than that "tall rich white male" no matter how clever she is. The idea that you can somehow just think the world you want into existence is only true for those already privileged enough to live in their own ideal world to begin with.

While it is noble to keep in mind that a black person in a wheelchair might have extra difficulties, intersectionality is used in practice to shut people up and to rack up intersectionality points to one-up others. A black lesbian has more points than a white woman and can tell her she can't talk. It makes you more of a victim to have more points and therefore your status is higher and you are "owed" more.

If this were a mathematical theorem it would read: 1+1>= 1

Triggered white dudes comments on MR site, comments supra.

Hate and insults like this are the end result of Intersectionality and feminism. And people are slowly starting to realize that.

The more effort spent using identifying characteristics to separate yourself from others, the more likely you are to succeed.

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